Being With a Narcissist Can Be a Hazard to Your Health

It is more than obvious that becoming a victim of emotional abuse can be very damaging to your emotional well-being. Everyone who has already been in a relationship with a narcissist  – or with an otherwise distanced, unavailable and abusive person – knows all too well that they can tear us apart and leave us broken, despaired and frustrated. However, there is far less talk about the fact that narcissists cannot only wreak havoc to our emotional balance, but can actually be a hazard to our health. I made this experience while I was in a relationship with a narcissist. The constant agony of being treated with distance, inconsistency and neglect led me to treat myself in a very unhealthful way. Besides, after a certain amount of time, the stress and pain were taking their toll on my body. The worst part was that I didn’t even care that much about the bad physical state I was in. I felt so down and low that I couldn’t have cared less. Looking at my complete indifference in retrospect leaves me shocked and in disbelief. At times, I feel extremely ashamed and angry at myself because I treated myself so neglectfully. Back then, I completely lacked the clarity of mind to put a stop to my bodily decay. I was so engulfed by pain and drama that I didn’t give much thought to my health.

During the first few weeks of being with the narcissist, my body was still able to handle the stress quite well. After a few weeks, however, the drama and stress were beginning to reflect in my physical state. First of all, I began to feel stinging pains in my chest, which reminded me all to clearly of the fact that my heart had already taken enough damage. At times, my entire chest felt so tight and constricted that I had trouble breathing. On top of that, the agony that came with all the disappointments and the insecurity led to an extreme loss of appetite and to insomnia. I often lay awake for hours, being tortured by unpleasant thoughts, and being kept from falling asleep by my efforts to make sense of his behavior and to find the rationale behind his detachment and unavailability. The lack of sleep, malnutrition and constant exposure to emotional stress caused me to feel extremely despaired, tired and exhausted. Every little task suddenly became strenuous and trying. Despite the constant feeling of exhaustion I still had trouble falling asleep.

I began taking sleeping pills and calmatives in order to be able to function in my daily life and to find some sleep at night. However, since they soon lost their effect, I began to take more and more of them, steadily increasing the dose without giving it much thought. I know that to some of you this might sound like an exaggerated reaction to a solvable problem. After all, I could have just left him. However, things are often not as easy as they seem. I was convinced that I had already invested too much to just let go and opt out. I wanted things to work out so desperately that I lost sight of myself in the process. I not only started taking pills, but also drank more alcohol and smoked more cigarettes than I used to. Before meeting the narcissist, I was only an occasional drinker. After I had been with him for some time, I started drinking more and more. I never lost control, I never drank far too much, but I began to rely on the calming effect that came with drinking a class of wine in the evening. Looking at if from today’s perspective I am very aware of the fact that I was slowly losing control – and that I was on a downward spiral towards complete decay. Back then, I wasn’t really aware of what I was doing to myself, because I didn’t really care all that much about it. I felt so low that I couldn’t have cared less about what I was doing to my body.

After a certain amount of time, the constant exposure to stress and my tendency to treat myself with neglect were beginning to show. I lost weight and my hair began to fall out. Besides, I was beginning to generally feel unwell and unhealthy. What greatly added to my indisposed state was the fact that I began feeling really depressed. At times I couldn’t stop crying; at other times I felt completely apathetic – being unable to get out of bed, not caring at all about what was going on around me. Additionally, I became very irritable, and every triviality could cause me to get angry or to start crying. I guess I wasn’t much fun to be around at the time – and still my family and my best friend were treating me with nothing but patience and understanding. I can’t put enough stress on the fact that their unconditional support was saving me. I don’t know where I would be without it. The depression could get so overwhelming that I at times really lost the will to live. As the narcissist sucked all the joy out of my life with his penchant for drama, ambiguity and triangulation, I fell deeper and deeper into a seemingly bottomless pit. The only thing I longed for was sleep, and waking up in the morning began to feel like a giant slap in the face. I guess this indifference towards life greatly contributed to my tendency to treat myself with neglect. Why should I have cared that my health was going down the drain? At this point it is important to emphasize that I was never suicidal, I never really contemplated putting an end to my life. However, I stopped being enthusiatic about life and a strong apathy and feeling of hoplessness were taking possession of me.

I know that some of the things I related in this post make me sound like a pathetic mess. I often felt that way about my own behavior and was ashamed that I allowed someone else to gain so much power over me. One could say that my pursuit of affection went way too far and made me lose control over my own body. In my exhausted and depressed state, I didn’t really care all that much about my physical well-being and therefore couldn’t bring up the determination to save myself. I’m certainly not proud of myself and it was not easy to talk about it and to admit my own failure. I am still shocked that I let things get out of hand to such an enormous extent. Back then, I wasn’t taking my mental and physical decay all that serious because I was just too apathetic. Now, I am very much aware of the fact that I was actually endangering my health, and that I was driven by emotional abuse to hurt and neglect myself. On the one hand, my physical state was negatively affected by the stress and drama the narcissist exposed me to. However, I also began to turn into his accomplice when it came to destroying my health. I was led by his ambiguity and distance to treat myself with neglect and indifference. I simply couldn’t find the strength and determination to take better care of myself. I was simply too depressed to give my health much thought.

Being with a narcissist can therefore be a real hazard to your health. I nearly lost control, and I don’t even dare to think about what would have happened if the relationship hadn’t ended so soon. I presumably would have continued on the downward spiral until I would have done some real damage to myself. Earlier, I often reacted with lack of understanding towards people who allowed themselves to be damaged by love. Now, I know better than that: I know how it feels to be defeated and to still not find the determination to opt out. I know how it feels to be damaged by a willingness to love, give and sacrifice. I know that emotional abuse and addiction to love can lead you to fall into a bottomless pit – to completely lose control. From an outside perspective, my reaction to the narcissist’s unavailabilty may seem exaggerated and unreasonable. Being caught in a dramatic and unhealthy relationship, however, greatly affects your ability to think rationally and impairs you to such a degree that you cannot muster the strength and determination to do what would be best.

Even though I feel ashamed about my lack of determination and extreme loss of control, I still felt the need to talk about it. I know that there are many people out there who made similar experiences – people who sacrificed their own health in their efforts to make an unhealthy relationship work. It is important to raise awareness that being the codependent partner in an emotionally abusive relationship can actually lead to physical decay (or even worse). My addiction to being loved and appreciated caused real damage and I’m happy that I managed to get back on track. I can finally sleep again, I eat regularly and I feel healthier and happier every day. My hair is no longer falling out, I stopped drinking, and I started taking yoga classes to increase my physical and mental well-being. I’m convinced that the experience of bodily decay was a wake-up call for me: I don’t think I will ever again let things get out of hand. I choose to belief that in the future I will have the strength to opt out of relationships with people who are sucking the life out of me and leave me sick and broken.

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Effects of Being with Mr. Unavailable 6: Health Problems and Physical Complaints

It is a well-known fact that extreme emotional stress can cause episodes of severe depression in which every movement requires an unusual amount of energy and will-power. Whenever we feel depressed as a result of being (or having been) part of an unhealthy relationship, we are unable to function properly and neglect many of our daily tasks – sometimes even our hobbies and friends – because we somehow no longer find the strength for doing anything at all. I’ve been through many of these episodes of severe depression and always managed to find my way out of them eventually. I always thought I did a good job at dealing with the grief and at overcoming the painful experiences. As it turns out, I never did all the work that would have been necessary to fully recover and move on as a stronger person. This failure to give myself enough time to grief and recover has led me to keep on getting into relationships with unavailable men, who would eventually break my heart again.

My inability to tackle my insecurities and to deal with the emotional wounds that men have inflicted on me also drove me into the arms of the last Mr. Unavailable. My relationship with him would turn out to be the most painful, exhausting and damaging of all of them. In the course of our interactions, I made the experience that emotional stress and pain can not only lead to sadness and depression, but can actually have an enormous effect on your physical well-being. After having been with Mr. Unavailable for a few weeks, I noticed that my health was deteriorating as a result of the emotional rollercoaster I found myself in.

The experience of having my hopes crushed over and over again, of being disappointed numerous times and of being treated with less than the bare minimum of respect and consideration, has led me to feel physically exhausted. Basic tasks would require an enormous amount of energy for me and I sometimes spent entire days on the couch, covered by a blanket because I no longer wanted to move. The consistent feeling of pain and sadness completely paralysed me and made my limbs feel heavy and useless. What further added to the feeling of physical exhaustion was the fact that I often could not sleep at all. I spent entire nights lying awake, racking my brain and almost going insane. Not being able to sleep and regain some of my strength would leave me even more desperate. Sometimes I was feeling so depressed that it would make me tremble, and I would even have attacks of sweating.

On top of feeling tired and exhausted, I had to deal with a severe lack of appetite and even nausea. I often couldn’t bring myself to eat all day. I had to force down food and hope that I would be able to keep it down. As a result, I lost weight and given the fact that I was quite skinny to begin with, I felt alarmed. As you can imagine, not being able to eat enough further added to the feeling of exhaustion.

When I was suffering from a particularly intense episode of stress and depression I could actually feel a stinging pain in my chest. My heart would often begin to race and it could even lead me to have trouble breathing. Whenever this happened, I felt extremely anxious and alarmed. My body was giving me clear signs that he was overwhelmed with my sadness and the emotional stress I was exposed to. The pain in the chest would sometimes become so bad that I considered seeing my doctor about it. I never followed through with it though, as I didn’t want to talk about the source of my physical complaints.

After weeks of continual stress, it got so bad that my hair began to fall out. Whenever I took a shower, I noticed an immense amount of hair going down the shower drain. I started to take pills that were supposed to counteract the loss of hair, but they never led to a real effect. I could actually feel my hair getting lighter and thinner and it would make me completely freak out at times.

To cut a long story short, being with Mr. Unavailable turned me into a nervous and physical wreck: I suffered from exhaustion, listlessness, lack of appetite and nausea, stinging pains in the chest and loss of hair. My apathy sometimes got so severe that I didn’t even care about any of those physical complaints. I was too busy recking my braing over Mr. Unavailable and his changeable behavior that I completely forgot to look after myself. However, there were also times when those health problems would increasingly alarm me and cause me to reconsider the situation I found myself in.

I’m now slowly recovering from everything that I have been through. I’m shocked and angry at myself that I allowed things to get out of hand to such a disastrous extent. My lack of self-esteem and consideration for my own well-being has led me to turn myself into a human wreck. I was so unable to treat myself with love and care that I often felt the physical complaints were an appropriate punishment for my own stupidity and naivety. I’ve finally learned that no man on earth is worth all the drama and pain that I’ve put of with. Someone who loves you should not make you suffer and get sick, but make you feel save, appreciated and cared for.

And just to let you know: I’m already feeling better. My hair has stopped falling out, I gained some weight and the pain in the chest has also almost completely subsided. Besides, I no longer suffer from nausea and am able to sleep relatively well most of the nights. I never want to get sick again from loving someone too much – especially not someone who treats me disrespectully and tramples all over me.

I’m now done with talking about the effects of being with Mr. Unavailable. At this point I want to say thank you to all of you following my blog and commenting on my posts. I really appreciate your kind and encouraging words and it helps me tremendously on my road to recovery. Please keep on commenting and sharing your own experiences and opinions. It’s always a pleasure to get feedback.